Oil falls to $98 a barrel as US supplies seen up

Oil falls to $98 a barrel as US supplies of crude expected to have risen again last week

Associated Press

The price of oil fell back to around $98 a barrel Tuesday as analysts forecast another rise of U.S. crude stockpiles.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. crude for December delivery was down 74 cents at $97.94 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It has fallen more than 4 percent so far in October.

U.S. crude supplies rose 21.5 million barrels in the four weeks ending Oct. 18, to levels nearly 10 percent above the five-year average.

Data for the week ending Oct. 25 is expected to show builds of 3.5 million barrels in crude oil stocks and of 1.5 million barrels in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

The American Petroleum Institute will release its report on oil stocks later Tuesday, while the report from the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration — the market benchmark — will be out on Wednesday.

The market was also looking ahead at a two-day Federal Reserve policy meeting starting Tuesday. The Fed is expected to reinforce expectations that it won't begin reducing its mammoth monetary stimulus until next year.

In contrast with the ample level of U.S. supplies, disruptions reported in Libya's oil industry — a recurring series of strikes and protests at production and export facilities — helped drive up oil prices in Europe by 2.5 percent Monday.

"Libyan oil exports have apparently declined to 90,000 barrels per day," said a report from analysts at Commerzbank in Frankfurt. "Last week, exports still totaled around 500,000 barrels per day, while a normal oil export volume would be 1.25 million barrels per day."

Brent crude, a benchmark for international crude also used by U.S. refineries, was down 75 cents to $108.86 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline lost 2.39 cents to $2.5864 a gallon.

— Heating oil retreated 1.92 cents to $2.945 a gallon.

— Natural gas added 1.9 cents to $3.588 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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